UCD is receiving a lot of “positive and welcoming” feedback from industry and government on its new food business with Chinese studies programme.

The feedback highlights the requirements for graduates with good technical skills; and an understanding of Chinese culture and language, said Damien Dempsey, marketing manager, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.

“This programme is part of DN250 agricultural science; there are five additional programmes available for students to select during stage one,” he said.

The minimum CAO points required to enter DN250 in 2017 was 490, the minimum was 454. Average intake will be approximately 180 students.

Students will complete year three of their studies in China at one of UCD’s partner universities, where they will take intermediate or advanced Chinese language courses and a range of modules.

There will be a limited number of language scholarship opportunities available on a competitive basis to cover tuition fees and accommodation for either one, or two, semesters in China.

“The food business with Chinese studies course is a really welcome development reflecting the changing market landscape for a greater number of graduates with improved foreign language capability to facilitate access to new markets,” said Prof. Alexander Evans, dean of agriculture at UCD.

“This programme has been in the pipeline for a number of years now and the collaboration with the UCD Institute for Chinese Studies is very exciting,” said Dr Chenguang Li, academic programme coordinator.

Reflecting the changing market landscape; it aims to develop graduates with skills and talents urgently required by the Irish food industry.

Billion euro market

As concerns over Brexit uncertainty involving the UK market continues to mount, export expansion to emerging markets is considered of critical strategic importance to the Irish economy.

As the world’s second largest economy, China is expected to become the first billion euro market for Irish food and drink exports outside the EU within the next two years.

The changing landscape requires improved foreign language capability of Irish companies to facilitate access to new markets; while sustaining and strengthening modern agri-food and agri-business companies, according to UCD.

The core modules offered in the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science will combine systematically with Chinese modules offered by UCD Institute for Chinese Studies, including: language, cultural, and target market oriented courses.

Prof. Liming Wang, director, UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland and Irish Institute for Chinese Studies, said that food business and trade between China and Ireland has witnessed consecutive years of fast growth.

China is currently the second largest market for Irish pigmeat and dairy and remains within the top five most important markets in other agri-food sectors – such as seafood, prepared foods and sheepmeat.

“Ireland has also become the first EU country to have its beef import ban lifted by China,” he said.